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The Electronic Telegraph West Indies v South Africa, Match Report
Peter Deeley - 11 March 1996

World Cup: Lara century spearheads great West Indies revival

West Indies (264-8) beat South Africa (245)

West Indies pulled themselves out of what Richie Richardson termed a ``bottomless pit'' of despair to achieve a 19-run victory over a South Africa bubbling with confidence in the World Cup here yesterday and go forward to a semi-final against the pre- tournament favourites Australia in Chandigarth on Thursday.

Brian Lara erased memories of his recent controversy over remarks directed at the South Africans and instead talked to them in the language he knows best, an innings of 111 off 97 balls that brought heartfelt praise even from the vanquished.

Hansie Cronje said Lara had been the difference between winning and losing, while coach Bob Woolmer, recalling his time with the left-hander at Warwickshire, added: ``It was simply brilliant.''

As Richardson acknowledged afterwards, there was more to this for West Indies than just winning. ``People at home are hungry for success. We have let them down in recent times and I would like to think that this makes them happy and satisfied.''

``We play by instinct,'' said the West Indies coach, and on the day it was the old-fashioned way that worked

It has been an extraordinary comeback from adversity for West Indies. Since what Richardson termed their ``nightmare'' defeat by Kenya, the captain, manager, coach and board chairman have resigned or been fired.

Before the game, Andy Roberts was dismissive of the ``computerised scientific'' approach of his opposite number, Woolmer. ``We play by instinct,'' said the West Indies coach, and on the day it was the old-fashioned way that worked.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul opened the batting for the first time in his international career and with Lara put South Africa's re- nowned fielding under such pressure that the two added 138 in 149 deliveries for the second wicket.

Ten runs came from misfields - and no less than five from Jonty Rhodes, who also put down the kind of diving catch at point that has become his hallmark.

Lara was distinctly nervous at the start, playing and missing half-a-dozen times and three overs had gone by before he timed anything, a crisp square drive for four off Cronje.

Curtly Ambrose has rarely seemed more fired-up, and Courtney Walsh kept the brakes on in the opening overs

From then on, there was no holding Lara. The whirling arms of Paul Adams, surprisingly preferred to Allan Donald, went for 19 in three overs, while Pat Symcox, bowling six overs round the wicket, was milked for 45 off six.

Chanderpaul, who had given one chance, became the first of a host of batsmen in the game to fall sweeping high in the arc between midwicket and long-off.

At that, the West Indian innings came to a stuttering halt. Sym- cox went over the wicket to restrict Lara's ability to attack and gained some solace for earlier punishment when he swept to leg. The West Indies total still looked vulnerable.

Curtly Ambrose, who has rarely seemed more fired-up, and Courtney Walsh kept the brakes on in the opening overs and South Africa were already 19 runs behind by the 10th over.

But then Daryll Cullinan, with three sixes, and Andrew Hudson ad- ded 97 for the second wicket and South Africa were almost at par- ity by the halfway mark.

The match pivoted on Richardson's use of his fifth attacker, Jim- my Adams. The left-armer, bowling on the line of leg stump, tempted both batsmen to hit him straight and both perished on the boundary.

Then Cronje pulled him down the throat of midwicket, and from that moment on, the South African innings was in shreds, with Roger Harper collecting four wickets in as many overs.

Jonty Rhodes was another to fall to the hoisted pull to leg, and Brian McMillan committed suicide to the off-spinner, trapped leg before square on in front as he tried to tickle to leg. Next ball Shaun Pollock drove low and firmly, but Harper took off and held the chance one-handed.

It was a reminder of the wonderful fielder this man has been and epitomised the kind of full-blooded power game West Indies played in their prime.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk